A wedding is a very special time. It symbolizes the love of the bride and groom of course, but also the union of their families, and their entrance into society as a couple. It can be very easy to get caught up in the grandeur and excitement of a wedding and forget about the meaning behind it all. These are five simple ways to make your wedding more meaningful.

Remember: One of the things that make wedding ceremonies so special is that they have a link to the past. If you have loved ones who have passed on, it can be very nice to find a way to remember them on your wedding day. There are a variety of ways to do so. Perhaps the groom has lost his parents; he can memorialize them by setting aside the seats at the ceremony that they would have normally used. Put a bouquet of white flowers on each one in their memory. Candles can also be a wonderful way to remember a loved one. The bride and groom can light a candle in memory of a cherished grandmother or other family member as part of the ceremony.

Carry on Customs: If anyone has ever been married in your family before you (a pretty safe bet), then you have family customs that you can draw on for your own wedding. One of the nicest things that a bride can do is to wear her mother's wedding gown. Even if the gown does not work for you as is, you can take a little piece of lace or fabric from her gown and have it sewn into your dress. Another idea is to carry the same flowers in your bouquet that your mother or grandmother did. You can have your florist replicate the bouquet from old photographs. The bouquet can be modernized if you choose by updating the style of ribbon on the stems. Some newlyweds will choose to honor their parents by dancing to the same first song as either the bride or groom's parents did at their wedding.

Give: Instead of letting your wedding be all about you ("I'm the bride, and it's MY day!"), take the opportunity to give back to others. This can mean giving something to those that are a part of you wedding, such as gifts of jewelry to your bridesmaids. (Bridesmaid jewelry gifts are not only a chance to show your generosity, they also are a nice gesture to show your appreciation for all that your attendants have done for you to make your wedding special.) You can also think of giving in the broader sense. Donate the extra food from your reception to a homeless shelter. Instead of candy, give your guests favors like saplings to plant, or make a donation in their names to a charity. After the wedding, you can even donate your bridal gown to a fundraising organization.

Cherish Family: Your wedding is not just about the two of you; your families are an important part of it as well. Be sure to show your parents, in particular, how much you appreciate all that they have done for you. One beautiful gesture that will not cost you a cent is to write a letter to each parent for them to read on the morning of the wedding. If you have family members from whom you have become estranged, your wedding can also be the perfect time for a reconciliation.

Respect the Earth: More and more couples are doing their best to "green" up their weddings. You can take simple steps such as choosing invitations that are made from recycled paper. Pick a caterer who will serve produce and meat from local organic farms. Take an eco-friendly honeymoon. You can also shoe respect for the creatures of the earth by avoiding doing such things as releasing doves or butterflies as part of your ceremony (the poor creatures rarely survive).

Once you get started, you will find that there are many ways to add meaning to your wedding. It helps to keep the focus on what is truly important. When all is said and done, your guests will find it a privilege to be a part of such a special day.


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